Demo: New Verizon FiOS Video Features

Mari Silbey —  July 22, 2009

After all the buzz surrounding Verizon’s launch of FiOS Facebook and Twitter apps last week, I was surprised to see such limited coverage of the video features also released. Luckily, a well-timed trip to my parents’ house gave me the opportunity to test out the new video-sharing functionality that’s now part of Verizon’s Home Media Manager software.

Home Media Manager is only available to subscribers who purchase Verizon’s Home Media DVR service. It allows users to network media from the Internet and the PC to the main FiOS DVR hub. Until now, that’s only included pics and music, but last week Verizon added long-awaited video support. (Dave first saw this demoed almost exactly one year ago.) Over the weekend I installed the necessary FiOS software on my dad’s computer, and then played around with the new TV features.

Verizon FiOS Internet Video screenshot 4

Video support in Home Media Manager includes the ability to watch both select Internet video clips, and your own home movies. As you can see in the footage above, the  Internet video clips are currently limited to Dailymotion, Veoh, and Blip.tv – no YouTube yet. Entertaining, but since I don’t spend time browsing those sites, not particularly interesting to me. What is interesting is contemplating where Verizon could take this feature in the future. Since we’re talking IP video, there are a lot of opportunities, both in terms of content and advanced features. At the same time, Verizon has to use a different portion of its network bandwidth to deliver video this way (versus its QAM video delivery), and that could ultimately cause network strain. Hmm…

On the home movie front, the FiOS software scans your PC automatically to make compatible videos available to your FiOS set-top. Once that’s done, it’s a simple process to select those videos on the TV menu for playing on the big screen. In my experience, the Home Media Manager software crashed a few times in this process, but once everything ran smoothly, it was a pretty compelling feature. Consumer interest may be mitigated by the fact that more and more camcorders (and PCs) now plug directly into a TV USB port, but the ability to access even old videos with the TV remote control has definite uses, especially because the connection is wireless. You must have your PC running and connected to the Internet, but no wires are required.  I also wonder if Verizon will make it possible in the future to transfer some of your personal video files for storage on the set-top. That would make the process even easier.

If you’re not up for watching the demo video above, I’ve also included some still pics below. The new features are available now across the entire FiOS footprint.

Click to enlarge:

11 responses to Demo: New Verizon FiOS Video Features

  1. I consider one of the best uses of my TiVo to be to watch ripped DVDs from my PC. This makes for a very nice similar function. Why oh why is FIOS not avaialable where I live.

  2. Thats really cool stuff there, and it’s all running on Motorola hardware. Motorola really has a really bad image in many end users minds because it runs the majority of cable operators out there. Those cable operators, including #1 giant multi-million dollar Comcast Corporation don’t even come close to scraping the surface of interactivity and image rich features like Verizon does. It’s all in the software as they say it! I’d have Verizon Fios in a heartbeat if I had that availability.

  3. The telcos are more willing to enable these sorts of features and sooner as the underdog. (AT&T’s Uverse is using more Motorola software features I believe whereas Verizon is writing their own stuff.) Also, I know VZ was requesting proposals for new hardware about a year ago. Not sure how that played out or is playing out, but future DVRs from them may or may not be Moto.

  4. I’ve been waiting to stream videos from my PC to FIOS DVR ever since I heard it was coming. Just got the new version of Media Manager yesterday so I could try it. It defaults to low bandwidth so video is blury/blocky. Switched it in Media Manager for high quality/bandwidth and was happy with the quality.

    The big problem is that you CANT pause, fast forward, rewind or skip. If you hit stop it doesn’t keep track of where you were so you have to start at the beginning of the video. This means it’s almost useless for video longer than a couple minutes.

    Please somebody tell me I’m just missing something stupid because I would really love to watch videos off my PC…

  5. The FIOS Motorola box still sucks. Adding little features like this aren’t going to help. Verizon should get out of the hardware business and stay in the services business. The sooner they open up their platform, the sooner they will have a superior experience to cable.

    Honestly, how many platforms do I need that stream video from a PC? Anyone who is interested in this probably already has several options for this…..

  6. As someone who works with Motorola, it’s been a long struggle differentiating Motorola’s hardware from the user-facing software operators choose to deploy. Especially because the hardware and the software have to work together, so it’s often hard to draw a distinct line between the two.

    Jeff- I didn’t realize the issue about not being able to pause, rewind, etc. That is frustrating. I’ll see if I can find out if a software update is planned.

  7. Well hopefully cable operators will eventually be able to show off some slick user interfaces and features in future software releases. With more of it going java based over OCAP/Tru2Way stacks, perhaps developers will have an easier time along with standardize libraries for doing simple tasks like drawing variable level transparencies, or anti-aliasing text, or decompressing bzip graphics on the fly for display, etc… Right now a lot of it is hardcoded in some kludgey legacy mess with no real true standards and no device driver like accelerations. Additionally enabling that DSG gateway over cable will help operators load flashy features, interactivity and other slick graphics on the fly over the docsis channel in a client-server style computing.

  8. Most people that wanted to hook up their PC to the TV already have. This is nothing new. I wonder if the ROI and bandwidth requirements deems it a success, especially when this feature caters to such a limited audience of Home Media subs.

    But at least they continue to innovate instead of stagnating like Cable. But what I’m still looking for is a true 16×9 HD interface and external drive support.

  9. The term wireless in this context is slightly miss leading. It doesn’t require you to have a wireless router, or even a wireless card in your computer, but instead it communicated to your MOCA enabled router through the existing coax connection. It’s still using wires, just not ethernet or USB. I do tech support for FiOS and this is a really common misconception.

  10. Brian- Thanks for the clarification. I meant that the laptop was wireless, but yes, the router must be connected.

  11. Just tried the video streaming feature yesterday. For the most part it works great. I tried one VOB file but it didn’t work. Will try more VOBs today.

    No pause, rewind or forward though. That is frustrating.